ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After hundreds of asylum seekers unexpectedly arrived in the middle of the night in Rotterdam, local leaders scrambled to answer concerns from some community members.
But others immediately reached out to help the families that had traveled a long time over long distance.
Allies For Justice, or AJF of Schenectady County is hosting their second donation drive to help support the asylum seekers who were recently shipped up to the Capital Region from New York City. It’s a brand-new group, created by Maria Pacheco not long after the asylees arrived.
“I’m looking for people who think like me that we should be helping our new neighbors. And people are just here. Bringing whatever it is that we have needed they are bringing it and we are so grateful they’re here with us,” said Maria Pacheco.
And those allies turned up and turned out to the Rotterdam Community Center.
“We have over 650 members right now. And we have about 50 to 80 here as well to collect all these donations from the residence the community members of Rotterdam,” said Liesha Sherman.
The donations even began piling up an hour before the drive officially got underway. Before long the community center was packed to the brim with all sorts of goods.
“This is amazing because there was a lot of hate I saw on Facebook and some friends in the community started organizing because I didn’t even realize that there weren’t any services for people that were Asylum seekers,” Karen McMillen.
So much was collected that the allies for justice can’t fit everything at St. Gabriel’s church where the items are being stored.
“We are sorting things here and then transporting it so it will be closer to the hotel where the residents are. And they just called us and said the church is full. No vacancy. So, we’re actually working with our superintendent at Mohonasen and we’re trying to find alternate locations where we can just store all the donations and catalog them and get them to the families tomorrow,” said Bill Sherman
The AFJ plans to give away the much-needed items to the asylees living at the super 8 motel in Rotterdam, Friday afternoon.
Not all in the Rotterdam community agree with housing asylum seekers locally, especially since residents were given very little notice to vacate the motel.
The allies here say they are simply doing this because it feels right to them.
“We are a community of humans who care for our new neighbors. We want to help them thrive, build their new lives with us and we want them to know that we in Schenectady County in the state of New York we welcome them,” said Pacheco.